The best middle grade books for when someone you love has Alzheimers/dementia

Shannon Wiersbitzky Author Of What Flowers Remember
By Shannon Wiersbitzky

Who am I?

The inspiration to write about Alzheimer’s came from my own life. My grandfather had the disease. He and I were very close and it broke my heart when I realized I’d been forgotten. He only remembered my voice, that it sounded like a little girl he used to know. I wanted to capture the truth of that in a story. Sadly, dementia is so common, but for some reason, we don’t talk about Alzheimer’s as openly as we do other diseases. Kids need to be able to have everyday conversations about what they might be experiencing in regards to whomever they know with the disease. My hope is that books like Flowers can help.


I wrote...

What Flowers Remember

By Shannon Wiersbitzky,

Book cover of What Flowers Remember

What is my book about?

Delia and Old Red make quite a pair. He has the know-how and she has the get-up-and-go. But something is happening to Old Red. And the doctors say he can’t be cured. He’s forgetting places and names and getting cranky for no reason. As his condition worsens, Delia takes it upon herself to save as many memories as she can. Her mission is to gather Old Red’s stories so that no one will forget, and she corrals everybody in town to help her.

What Flowers Remember is a story of love and loss, of a young girl coming to understand that even when people die, they live on in our minds, our hearts, and our stories.

The books I picked & why

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Hour of the Bees

By Lindsay Eagar,

Book cover of Hour of the Bees

Why this book?

Hour of the Bees is a mix of realism and fantasy, of not exactly knowing what is true versus what is imagined, which in a way, describes Alzheimer’s. Carolina and her family travel to the New Mexico desert to move her Grandfather into a home for people with memory loss. Grandpa Serge hasn’t completely lost his memory, so in some ways it is up to the reader to decide if the magical tale he tells about a tree, bees, a green-glass lake, and his dead wife Rosa is real or imagined. It is a story of love and loss, of wanting both wings and roots. 

Hour of the Bees

By Lindsay Eagar,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Hour of the Bees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A beautifully written debut novel that weaves together magic and reality, about a girl's relationship with her mentally ill grandfather.

This powerful debut novel delicately blurs the line between truth and fiction as Carol unravels the fantastical stories of her mentally ill grandfather. When she and her family move to his deserted ranch in order to transfer him to a care home, Carol struggles to cope with the suffocating heat and the effects of her grandfather's dementia. Bees seem to be following her around, but the drought means this is impossible. She must be imagining things. Yet when her grandfather…


Forever This Summer

By Leslie C. Youngblood,

Book cover of Forever This Summer

Why this book?

Forever This Summer is a lovely tale about the power of a family coming together in a tough time. Georgia, her Mama, and the happenings in and around the Sweetings Family Diner are relatable. As Georgia and her Mama look to help Aunt Vie, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, she learns her own family history. It’s a different take on the notion of memories. Aunt Vie’s memories are disappearing and being replaced by those of Georgia’s as she visits the people and places that made the women in her life who they are. 

Forever This Summer

By Leslie C. Youngblood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forever This Summer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Georgie has no idea what to expect when she, Mama, and Peaches are plopped down in the middle of small town USA--aka Bogalusa, Louisiana--where Mama grew up and Great Aunt Vie needs constant care.

Georgie wants to help out at the once famous family diner that served celebrities like the Jackson 5 and the Supremes, but everyone is too busy to show her the ropes and Mama is treating her like a baby, not letting her leave her sight. When she finally gets permission to leave on her own, Georgie makes friends with Markie--a foster kid who'd been under Aunt…


Sticky Notes

By Dianne Touchell,

Book cover of Sticky Notes

Why this book?

Sticky Notes centers on a parent who has early-onset Alzheimer’s and is told from the perspective of a 10-year-old boy, Foster. The voice is a genuine one and the writing is heartfelt, as Foster compares his own forgetting to Dad’s forgetting and sometimes convinces himself that there is no need to worry. The confusion and lack of clear discussion with Foster about what is happening is a real challenge for many dealing with the disease. As the forgetting gets worse and Dad begins to change, Touchell documents the family changes that Foster and his mother go through too, with a sensitive touch. 

Sticky Notes

By Dianne Touchell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sticky Notes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For fans of The Thing About Jellyfish, a touching story about the power of love and family in the face of a parent's early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Ten-year-old Foster has always loved listening to his dad's stories. But lately, Dad's memory hasn't been so great, and Mom's placed sticky notes around the house to help him. As Dad's condition worsens, it's Foster who will need to look deep into his heart and remember for them both.

Sticky Notes is a touching story about the power of love and family in the face of a parent's Alzheimer's disease, and a moving reminder…


Pop

By Gordon Korman,

Book cover of Pop

Why this book?

This book is also from a boy’s vantage point, and with a twist, dementia that is a result of too many concussions in the game of football. When Marcus moves to a new town, he befriends Charlie, an ex-NFL’er who mistakenly believes Marcus is a college buddy. Lots of themes come together in this story; family secrecy, a desire to fit in, and even the line between right and wrong depending on the motivation. This book doesn’t shy away from tough topics, including the idea that some people, if given the choice, would choose to die rather than live with the disease. 

Pop

By Gordon Korman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pop as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pop delivers suspense, humor, sports action, and a compelling look at the damage those "pop"s in football can cause

Gordon Korman's books appeal to a wide range of kids and adults and can pull in even reluctant readers. Share Pop in your home or classroom; sports fans in particular won't be able to put it down.

When Marcus moves to a new town in the dead of summer, he doesn't know a soul. While practicing football for impending tryouts, he strikes up a friendship with a man named Charlie, the best football player Marcus has ever seen. He can't believe…


The Space Between Lost and Found

By Sandy Stark-McGinnis,

Book cover of The Space Between Lost and Found

Why this book?

Stark-McGinnis tackles Alzheimer’s of a parent, in this case, a mother. The disease is already well-progressed as we meet Cassie; her mother has already forgotten her name. Told in the present tense interspersed with a series of flashbacks to before Cassie’s Mom had the disease, we see all that has been lost. Linking memories to math, in that each can be broken down into more finite parts, Cassie draws “memory sketches” in the hopes that connecting all the dots in Mom’s life will make her remember. It doesn’t of course, but with her father, Cassie finds a path toward acceptance. 

The Space Between Lost and Found

By Sandy Stark-McGinnis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Space Between Lost and Found as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the acclaimed author of Extraordinary Birds, a powerful story about family, friendship, and the light that can be found even in the darkest of places.

Cassie's always looked up to her mom, a vibrant woman bursting with grand ideas. Together they planned to check off every dream on their think-big bucket list, no matter how far the adventures took them. The future seemed unlimited.

But then came the diagnosis, and Mom started to lose her memories. Even the ones Cassie thought she'd never forget. Even Cassie's name.

Cassie tries her hardest to keep Mom happy . . . to…


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